Credit cards around the world: Australia

A look at how people use plastic in the land Down Under

This is the second in an ongoing series of reports looking at credit card use around the world. In this edition, we look at Australian credit cards, but we'll spanning the globe in coming weeks and months to feature other nations.

Credit report

Credit card penetration
13 million credit cards, 28 million debit cards (Reserve Bank of Australia, June 2008)

Major debt problem
In May 2008, credit card debt hit an Australian record of $44.2 million. The average balance on an individual credit card account: $3,299. (Reserve Bank)

The big four
ANZ Banking Group, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank rule the Aussie card business, all topping $23 billion in purchase volume. Commonwealth is the largest debit card issuer at nearly $10 billion in purchase volume. (Aug 2008, Nilson Report)

RIP, Bankcard
Bankcard, Australia's first credit card, was phased out in 2006. The card was only usable in Australia -- and couldn't be used online -- and thus couldn't compete with Visa and MasterCard.

Cards and crime

Cybercrime capital
Australia has the highest incidence of cyber crime in the world, according to a recent global survey. More than 39 percent of Australians have been victims, and credit card fraud is one of the most common forms of theft.

The cost of ID theft
ID theft likely costs Australians at least $1 billion per year. Research commissioned by a major credit reporting agency in 2008 found that 1.1 million Australians had personally experienced identity theft, and three million had friends or acquaintances who had experienced it. About 21 million people live in Australia currently.

Still not a huge concern
A study from a major Aussie credit reporting agency says 70 percent of all Australians had not taken any steps to protect their identity. The number climbs to 90 percent when discussing 16 to 24 year olds.

Local voices

Official tourism site

Top financial news sites
- Business
- Sydney Morning Herald Business

Australian financial blogs
- Aneace's Blog
- Tightwad Kitty

Country info

Prime Minister: Kevin Rudd

Location: Between S. Pacific & Indian oceans in Southern Hemisphere (map)

Population: 21,007,310 (July 2008,

Area: 7.7 million sq km (3 million sq mi)

GDP: $760.8 billion (2007,

Key exports: coal, iron ore, gold, meat

Famous Australians: Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, actors Mel Gibson and Nicole Kidman, and scientist Lord Howard Florey

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Updated: 03-18-2019